Whilst the original Argonauts were heroes of ancient times, sailing off on an epic quest in search of mythic treasure, the more singularly named Argonaut represent a group of indie-pop heroines creating their own musical treasure. Since releasing third album Forever last year, the band have undergone a line-up change, incorporating additional female members including former luminaries of legendary indie groups Hefner and Monochrome Set and UK Riot Grrrls Linus. Despite that lineage, the five-piece are still true to their DIY roots, The New Argonaut EP was recorded near live at Bally Studios with reassuringly light production.
The Riot Grrrl + indie-pop sandwich structure of the band is reflected in the EP’s running order. Opener ‘You Are’, with its gutter-deep bassline, Slits-style harmonies and choppy lead guitar, has a sinister and bitter irony in its simplicity. “You are a beautiful creature” is the refrain in the chorus – a celebration of women, possibly, or maybe also a comment on the less than charming ways men like to describe them. Closer ‘Girl Talk’ reprises the deep-bass and slashy guitar, but in more praiseworthy, upbeat style. It’s middle-eight handclaps are soulful (and almost gospel) in nature, before its closing coda goes into Le Tigre anthemic electro-rock, underscored by a swirly guitar line that shimmers before crunching the EP to a close.
Inbetween are two classic slices of off-kilter indie-pop. The first, ‘Since Yesterday’, is a cover of Glasgow duo Strawberry Switchblade’s song of the same name. Where the original was an electronic melange, this is a stripped-back version with the synths replaced by guitar feedback. It’s a reminder of the inherent contrast at the heart of twee indie: beautiful harmonies meeting angular post-punk experimentation. Following the cover is a return to one of Argonaut’s own songs – ‘March!’, taken from Forever. With its swoopy, pleading vocals, crooning guitars and deliriously contrasting male backing vocals, the track could be plucked directly from the Sarah Records back-catalogue.
Released on Analogue Rock – run by one former bassist, Joules – and available exclusively through KeyMailOrder – run by a different former bassist, Paul, The New Argonaut EP is indie through and through. The band’s press release, penned by their own guitarist, even mentions that the band had stormed through the recording session in just six hours: two hours less than originally booked. And, if it’s not the most slick and stately voyage you’ll ever embark on, at least with Argonaut, you’re not going to feel fleeced.
The New Argonaut EP is out 24th August, order it here. Catch Argonaut live at Byline Festival this Sunday, 26th August.